Researchers study failed stents for peripheral artery disease

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations | July 15, 2015

Image with caption: Donna Woodworth (left), a retired nurse who also is a study participant, talks with Jason MacTaggart, M.D., during a clinic appointment.

Donna Woodworth (left), a retired nurse who also is a study participant, talks with Jason MacTaggart, M.D., during a clinic appointment.

Researchers at UNMC have received a five-year, $3.5 million grant funded by the National Institutes of Health to find out why stents don't work well for treating peripheral artery disease (PAD).

In the last decade, there's been an explosion in treating PAD using angioplasty and stenting -- a minimally invasive procedure in which the patient is awake and usually leaves the hospital the next day.

Stents, small tubular metal devices that doctors put in diseased arteries to keep them open, work well in the heart, but often fail miserably in the leg arteries. Though peripheral artery disease stents may generally work for many patients, there is significant room for improvement as many patients require repeat procedures in as little as one or two years, said Jason MacTaggart, M.D. A national study estimated the cost at $21 billion a year.

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Part of the research team at work: Right to left: Jason MacTaggart, M.D., Alexey Kamenskiy, Ph.D., and Paul Deegan, research associate and mechanical engineer.
Dr. MacTaggart, a vascular surgeon, and Alexey Kamenskiy, Ph.D., a biomedical engineer, both assistant professors in the UNMC Department of Surgery, are co-principal investigators of the research study.

"There are several ways to treat PAD, but none of them are really very good," Dr. MacTaggart said. "It's frustrating for doctors and patients. Everybody is trying to build a better mouse trap, but nobody really has. With the support of the UNMC Department of Surgery and our team of collaborators, we are taking a rational approach to figure out why stents don't work very well in the legs."

Researchers will study donor cadavers and arteries of various ages and stages of disease to gain accurate information to design computer models that would be used to determine which stent is best to use in individual patients. The computer predictions will be verified in PAD patients receiving stents at Nebraska Medicine, UNMC's hospital partner, and the VA Medical Center.

"Our goal is to help make better stents and to personalize PAD interventions. We analyze how these stents go into the artery, how they interact with the arterial wall as we walk, and how to make this interaction more favorable," Dr. Kamenskiy said. "Right now there's a lot of art to using stents in PAD. We are trying to do less art and more science."

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Several types of stents used in peripheral artery disease.
Peripheral artery disease reduces or completely cuts off blood flow in the leg arteries. This results in pain, numbness of the feet, inability to walk, wounds that won't heal, and, in worse case scenarios, amputation of the toes, feet or legs. The risk factors include diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and aging.

For more information, contact Karen Taylor at UNMC at (402) 559-3935 or Holly DeSpiegelaere at the VA, (402) 995-4171.

Anne J Hamlin
April 27, 2021 at 10:15 PM

I have had 7 stents in less than 2 years and a bypass in the right leg. 5 stents have failed within 11/2 years and the bypass failed in 6 months. What can be done to relief some of this pain? Can any of these stents be removed and replaced with something else? My blood pressure has been under control for years. I fought an infection for 3 months.

Henry Lessing
October 22, 2020 at 10:55 AM

I have PAD in both of my Lower Legs.After reading about the Problems with Stints in the Legs I'am more than just a little worried.I'am 70 year old male W,Diabetes,High-Blood Pres.and don't want to keep going back for Repairs.Do you have any comforting news for me?

Eleanor loiselle
August 18, 2020 at 7:56 PM

I have aste not inmy leg aboveand to the side of my knee. Does anyone else have pain touching the area where the stent is or when kneeling

Sharron Crocker
August 05, 2020 at 4:43 PM

I had 2 stents put in my femoral artery but in the last month something is not right anymore. Can hardly walk 2 blocks before my right thigh feels like a 50 lb, weight. well it's back to the vascular surgeon on the 19th. of aug. My original surgery was Oct.!st 2019. I do have HBP.

Angel Watson
July 31, 2020 at 4:20 PM

I just had 2 .stints out in around my groin area due to lack of oxygen to my pinky toe. Getting some blood flow back in toe but not completely I am very worried. I have never heard of this freaking disease until now!

Hida Clausson
May 18, 2020 at 12:47 PM

I am still not sure if a stent will really help me,

October 09, 2019 at 7:11 AM

Had stents put in both calves in Oct 2018. While crouching down for 10 min stood up and immediately knew I had damaged stents and had severe cramping. Any one else had a similar experience of a body position damaging stents?

April 26, 2019 at 5:49 PM

This is sad. I don't have any issues but my Bf does. He's had stents placed in his legs twice now. And is in alot of pain and feet always ice cold. I massage his legs for him but it doesn't seem to help. He is a heavy smoker though. Damn government.......... WHY WONT YOU BAN CIGARETTES AND STOP MAKING THEM??? BECAUSE UR GREEDY! Cigarettes make me sick. For all the damage they do and they won't ban them. Anyways, I sure hope and I will pray that doctors will SOON find a better way for these leg stents to help all you people including my Bf. It makes me feel sad that there's nothing I can do. But I can pray.

April 05, 2019 at 4:15 PM

Can a broken leg stent be repaired or removed if catheter wire won’t get to blockage in leg

Bruce Barton
April 05, 2019 at 1:21 PM

I’ve had 5 procedures since 2014, all have failed. I’m worse off now than I was when they put the first stent/balloon. I am going into Massachusetts general hospital on April 8. They are going into the area where I had the first stent and will try to open this up 2mm. I feel like pin cushion. Please understand I had bypass surgery in 2000. I have high blood pressure (controlled) and diabetes (controlled) I know I’m a mess. I did not like my last diognos, because the main vein in my right was used for the heart bypass. Wish me luck. I feel my local doctors did not serve me well. I hope for better results at MGH.

October 19, 2018 at 1:05 AM

I have 5 stents in my legs that was place in my legs 5 years ago this month.My legs still feel ok but right now I’m trying to find a doctor to check on my stents.

Wendy Colley
August 06, 2018 at 6:25 AM

In November 2017 I had a kissing stent for PAD. I now have the pain back but only in the left leg. If my stent has collapsed, can it cause further problems whilst waiting for appointments. I worry that it might cause problems in other parts of the body. Is this possible?

Gwendolyn jarrett
June 05, 2018 at 4:00 PM

What r signs that stent stop working how long before it get really bad to point of leg removal

Ted Hawkins
January 04, 2018 at 8:53 PM

Question for someone: does heat help or improve the function of a leg stent?

Hilary Mosher
May 15, 2016 at 4:02 PM

with the knowledge that the stents are very often ineffective, why do doctors keep implanting them? My brother has had one implanted in each leg and in both cases, each have failed within 6 months!

March 07, 2016 at 3:34 PM

My husband is so tired of the procedures not working he has blockage again and is scheduled again for radiology intervention please if you him email me we are desperate

March 07, 2016 at 3:31 PM

My husband has been dealing with pad for about ten years stents continue to fail he even had an artrey removed and put back in to open up his iliac area